The Ole Ball Game

The Single Cutoff, An Easy Concept To Explain, A Sometimes Difficult Task For Young Players To Accomplish!

The single cutoff seemingly is a concept well known to all those spectators gathered at youth baseball fields everywhere. This instruction is routinely yelled out loud and clear,"Hit The Cutoff Man."

While it seems a relatively easy task to accomplish, the reality is that it is not.

On any given field, on any given day, you can see numerous missed relays from Little League through MLB.

Many believe that the system was designed for younger players, whose arms were not strong enough to reach the base they needed to throw to, thus the creation of a "relay man" who could then relay the ball on to that base.

That belief evolves a step further as players develop and mature, their abilities and strength allow them to throw the ball to each base, without the assistance of a cutoff man.

While the individual may no longer need assistance to reach the base with their throw, there is much more strategically inside the game that requires that relay man.

Let's take a look inside this system.

The Single Cutoff ~ What Is It?

outfielder setting up throw to cutoff


This play is used any time the baseball leaves the infield, going to the outfield area.

This could be from a base hit, a groundball getting past or through an infielder, a fly ball, a thrown ball, etc.

Once the ball is into the outfield, an infielder becomes the go between, positioned between the outfielder fielding the ball and the base they will need to throw to.









The player, at the base the throw will be coming to, positions the relay man to get him lined up, giving the outfielder a direct throw, through the player to the base.








Single Cutoff Tips ~ From the Dugout

Single Cutoff Tips ~ from the dugout

  • Infielders should be aware of how well each outfielder throws. Let the outfielder make the longest throw, if he has the better arm.


  • Outfielders are throwing through the relay man's head, to the base.


  • It is essential that the outfielder hit the relay man on all plays that are not do or die. This provides the defense an opportunity to cut the ball, possibly to keep the batter off second base.


  • When the fielder at the base sees there is no chance to get the runner, they should call "cut". If the batter is attempting to advance to second, there is a possibility to make that out. In the very least, the cut holds the batter at first, leaving the double play open.


  • If there is a play and the ball is on line and strong, the fielder says nothing. This means the relay men lets the ball go. If he yells cut, run it in, it gets cut and the player runs the ball into the infield. Or, cut 1, 2, 3, 4 and the ball gets cut and thrown to the base called.


  • The infielder holds both hands above his head, yelling "hit me", "ball", or whatever you like to use. The concept is to provide the outfielder with an audible location for the throw, increasing the speed and accuracy of that throw.


  • Infielders should anticipate their upcoming throw and start moving their feet into position as soon as they see the location of the outfielders throw. This movement increases the speed with which they are able to get their throw off, translating into a better opportunity for the out at the other end.





What Makes Your Single Cutoff System Work?

Communication! As players are communicating, they are thinking on the run. This ability translates into a free flowing, flexible group of players who are able to adjust to anything the game can throw at them.

The picture below is a "cut 2" call, to get the batter/runner attempting to take second base on the outfielder's throw. It is all about communication and anticipation!

backside out, off cutoff


Lou Gehrig Said It. We All Should Never Forget It; "Each Of Us Is Lucky To Get The Chance To Play Ball"!




Single Cutoff Diagrams

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